The Sisters of the Good Samaritan have elected a new leadership team and discerned a new Statement of Directions for the next six years at their 26th Chapter Gathering in Sydney earlier this month.
Of the 208 Good Samaritan Sisters who live and minister throughout Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Kiribati, 115 were present for the Chapter Gathering which deeply explored issues of importance for the world, the Church and the congregation in 2017, and into the future.
The newly-elected five-member leadership team responsible for the pastoral governance of the congregation until 2023 were Sister Patty Fawkner, Congregational Leader and Councillors, Sisters Catherine McCahill, Meg Kahler, Marella Rebgetz and Veronica McCluskie.
Sister Patty Fawkner said that she was humbled to be called to the ministry of leadership and was proud to be asked to lead the congregation that she loves dearly.
“I’m aware that leadership at this time in our world and in our Church is a mixed blessing. Organisations evolve to greater complexity, and this is true for us as Good Samaritans even though we are diminishing in numbers. So I’m amazed at how much at peace I feel. I know that I have the love and prayerful support of my Sisters and that fills me with confidence.”
Sister Fawkner described the overall experience of the Chapter Gathering as fresh, engaging, energising and outward-focussed. She said the congregation’s Statement of Directions for the next six years, which grew from a 15-month period of dialogue and discernment, is a statement of which the Good Samaritan, St Benedict and our founder John Bede Polding would be proud.
“Our Statement of Directions is faithful to our charism and tradition of our seeking of God and being called to be neighbour. And it’s focussed on the needs of our contemporary world.
“It challenges us to work in partnership to respond to the needs of those people who are often left on the margins of society’s care and concern. This includes care for our fragile planet and our bruised and wounded Church.
“We recognise the conflict and animosity that exists between nations and sectors of society and we want to nurture a culture of mutuality, starting with ourselves,” Sister Fawkner said.
The Good Samaritan Sisters’ 2017-2023 Statement of Directions states: As Good Samaritans, we listen to the Spirit calling us to act boldly and courageously: nurturing a culture of mutuality; committing ourselves to ecological conversion; fostering an ecclesial community; embracing God’s mission in partnership.
Sister Fawkner said that this Statement, is a vision for us, so we will need to spend time unpacking it and exploring its implications for our priorities, policies and projects. We are a small congregation, but we do have human and other resources to contribute to God’s mission.
“On the last day of the Chapter Gathering, the Sisters also released a statement of solidarity with Japan and the Asia-Pacific region in response to the growing tensions between the USA and North Korea.
“We observe with dismay the growing tensions between the United States of America and the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (North Korea) and between North Korea and Japan. We recognise that many people are suffering under the threat of attack and we stand in solidarity with the people of Japan and all those who live in fear of nuclear conflict.
“The escalation of tensions and threats between the USA and North Korea has brought our world to a potential disastrous conflict and we pray that, through respectful dialogue and mutual understanding we may be able to stand together and build a new way of looking at each other and our world that embraces our shared humanity. We pray that all nations will commit to nuclear disarmament and active peace-building.
“As Sisters, together with the Catholic community in Japan, and with people of peace in every community, we stand committed to dialogue and to working for peace as one human community,” she said.